Art, Cuisine and Fashion in Paris and Provence

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Splurge on the best things about Paris--its art, food and fashion--on a small group tour led by artist Amadea Bailey from Sept. 22 to Oct. 1. (A second trip is scheduled Oct. 8 to 15.)

Participants will visit contemporary galleries and the Impressionist collection at the Musee d'Orsay, and fashion boutiques on the Left Bank.

Meals will be at fine restaurants, including the St. George at the top of the Pompidou Centre with views of the city.

The tour ends with a weekend getaway to the Chateau d'Esclimont, a 16th century castle between Chartres and Versailles.

Cost: $2,400 per person, double occupancy, including accommodations, daily breakfast, a museum pass, a welcome dinner and ground transfers. Air fare is extra.

Contact: Amadea Bailey Tours; telephone (310) 822-4504.

More France: Cooking

"Cuisine en Provence" is a custom tour focusing on cooking classes held by master chef Jean-Marie Carret.

The nine-day trip, departing Sept. 20, begins in Paris with a city tour.

There will be time for independent exploration before participants board the high-speed TGV train to Marseilles.

The seven days in Provence include accommodations at La Petite Auberge, all meals (including two restaurant dinners) with wines, five cooking classes, three visits to Provencal markets to shop for fresh ingredients, three tours of wineries in the Var and Bouches-du-Rhone area, sightseeing excursions and a Provence recipe book.

The group is limited to 16.

Cost: $2,964 per person, double occupancy, including hotels and entrance fees. Air fare is extra.

Contact: Acacia Travel, 3272 Rosecrans St., San Diego, CA 92110; tel. (619) 225-1233 or (800) 243-6996, http://www.acaciatravel.com.

Virginia: Robert E. Lee

The Civil War general was one of the rare Confederates regarded by Northerners and Southerners alike as a man of honor and integrity. "Robert E. Lee in Virginia" is a learning vacation offered by HistoryAmerica Tours in partnership with the History Channel. The eight-day, seven-night tour starts Sept. 22 in Washington, D.C.

Robert E. Lee Krick, a historian specializing in Confederate military history, will lead the tour.

The group will visit Lee's boyhood home in Alexandria and his estate at Arlington, both across the Potomac from Washington, as well as the battlefields of Second Manassas, Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, the Wilderness and Spotsylvania Court House.

After a stop at Appomattox, where Lee surrendered to Gen. U.S. Grant in 1865, the tour continues to the historic town of Lexington for a visit to Lee's grave, the Lee Chapel and the museum at the Virginia Military Institute.

The last day of touring will be in Maryland at the Antietam and Sharpsburg battlefields.

Cost: $1,595 per person, double occupancy, including seven nights' accommodations, transportation, 13 meals and guides. Air fare is extra.

Contact: HistoryAmerica Tours, P.O. Box 797687, Dallas, TX 75379; tel. (800) 628-8542, http://www.historyamerica.com.

Austria: It's the Music

Hear the sound of Austrian music on a trip from Sept. 26 to Oct. 3 to Vienna and Salzburg with Herzerl Tours.

The tour starts in Salzburg, with a stop to see where Mozart and his family lived. Guests then travel east to St. Florian, the birthplace and workplace of Anton Bruckner, and the abbey of St. Florian, whose grand organ has 7,700 pipes.

Going farther east along the Danube, the tour stops next in Vienna, where participants will attend performances of music by Beethoven, Schubert, Mahler or the Strausses, and will visit sites where the composers lived and worked.

Also included is a tour of the recently opened House of Music, an interactive museum.

From Vienna the tour goes to Eisenstadt to explore the life and music of Franz Joseph Haydn.

Itinerary extras include a matinee with the Haydn Quartet in the Esterhazy Palace near Vienna and walking tours through Salzburg and Vienna.

Cost: $2,495 per person, including round-trip air fare from New York, accommodations, two meals per day, privately guided sightseeing tours and all transfers, entrance fees and concert and opera tickets. Air fare to New York is not included.

Contact: Herzerl Tours, P.O. Box 0217, Tuckahoe, N.Y. 10707; tel. (800) 684-8488, http://www.herzerltours.com.

Washington: Hiking

Put a pack on your back and tromp (gently, please) into the Northwest's Northern Cascades National Park.

Wilderness Inquiry, a nonprofit organization that provides adventures for people of all ages and abilities, is running backpack trips Sept. 8 to 14 and Sept. 17 to 23.

The destination is the meadows of Bridge Creek, surrounded by the glacier-clad summits of Goode and Storm King mountains.

Hikers will traverse stands of old pine and open meadows of alder and vine maple. Waterfalls tumble down from the mountains, the characteristic that gives the Cascade Range its name.

Daily distances are short, and the level of difficulty ranges from easy to moderate. Equipment, carried in a backpack, is light, and food is simple to prepare.

Cost: $695 per person, including instruction, food, backpacks, tents and other equipment. Transportation to the site is extra.

Contact: Wilderness Inquiry, 808 14th Ave. S.E., Minneapolis, MN 55414; tel. (612) 676-9400 or (800) 728-0719, http://www.wildernessinquiry.org.

East Coast: History

A 10-day tour of historic sites in America, with stops in Philadelphia, Valley Forge and Gettysburg, Pa.; New York; Washington,D.C.; Colonial Williamsburg; and Monticello, Va., is planned by Great Western Tours. It begins Sept. 20.

Highlights include Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty in New York; Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia; an Amish farm, Gettysburg National Military Park and the Eisenhower Farm in Pennsylvania; two days in the Washington area, including a tour of the capital's monuments, Arlington National Cemetery and George Washington's Mount Vernon; a day of leisure to visit the Capitol and the Smithsonian Institution or arrange a tour of the White House; a day in Colonial Williamsburg; and a visit to Monticello, Thomas Jefferson's home.

Cost: $2,195 per person, double occupancy, including round-trip air fare from LAX to Newark, N.J., and return from Washington, D.C., deluxe motor-coach transportation, nine nights in hotels, 15 meals, guides and admissions.

Contact: Great Western Tours; tel. (800) 344-7090.

Italy: Paint or Shop

Two tours to Italy--one focusing on art, the other on shopping--will be offered Sept. 3 through 14 in the medieval hill towns of Umbria and Tuscany.

The art tour, "Painting on Location in Italy," will be led by art instructors Judy Anderson and Mae McKenna. A "Shop Till You Drop" tour will be led by Italy expert Roberta Kritzia.

On the shopping trip, participants will be able to find Etruscan-style jewelry, silk, leather jackets, ceramics, watercolors from San Gimignano and Florentine linens.

Artists will explore and work in Siena, Florence, San Gimignano, Deruta, Spoleto and Norcia.

Cost: $3,195 per person, double occupancy, including accommodations in family-run hotels, private bus service, buffet breakfasts and six full meals. Air fare is not included.

Contact: Personalized Travel; tel. (818) 994-2402, http://www.artistravel.com.

India: Highlights

India-born Simon George, a physics professor at Cal State Long Beach, will show travelers his homeland on a trip to India and Nepal from Jan. 4 to 26.

Madras, Trivandrum, Cochin, Bombay, Udaipur, Jaipur, Delhi, Agra (Taj Mahal), Khajuraho and Varanasi on the Ganges are on the itinerary, as well as Katmandu, Nepal. Guests will also tour Singapore, a stopover on the way to India.

Cost: from $4,900 per person, double occupancy, including round-trip air fare from Los Angeles, ground transportation, deluxe hotels, all meals, admission fees and guides. Contact: Simon George at CSULB; tel. (562) 985-4848.

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The Times is not responsible for changes in prices, dates or itineraries. These should be confirmed with travel agents or tour operators.

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